This wasn't my first time. Professional lasers have been a crucial part of my skincare regimen ever since I had my son (for reference, he just turned 9). You see, I developed serious melasma during my pregnancy (a form of pigmentation induced by hormones and light), and I treated it with three sessions of IPL (aka intense pulsed light) as soon as I could. But even though that treatment left me with baby smooth, clear skin, unfortunately, once you develop melasma, it never goes away. So I've been on a preventative melasma management plan ever since, which means monthly lactic and salicylic peels, brightening serums, retinol creams, and laser treatments.
Seeing it written down like that makes it seem more labor-intensive than it is, but for me, keeping my skin fit and healthy generates the same feel-good endorphins as a solid workout. True story. So when a colleague told me about the new Regeneo Facial that uses your own blood as an anti-aging, regenerative serum that can improve pigment problems, my intrigue levels piqued to an all time high. I'd heard about the vampire facial before (thanks, Kim Kardashian West), but this procedure didn't involve needles reinjecting my own blood back into my face. Ouch. Rather, it would be used to help heal my skin faster after it was treated with Clear + Brilliant, the popular skin-resurfacing laser. Sign me up.
So I handed my melasma-prone skin over to the very capable and professional hands of Jennifer Herrmann, MD, of the celeb-frequented practice Moy-Fincher-Chipps Dermatology in Beverly Hills, with high hopes, and I wasn't disappointed. Read on to find out what happened to my skin when I had a blood facial.
According to Herrmann, PRP stands for platelet-rich plasma, which is extracted from your own blood using the Regeneo German technology. "This process isolates the highest concentration of platelets, growth factors, and cellular healing components on the market," she explains. So how does it work? "Blood is drawn, it's spun down to concentrate and isolate platelets and other healing factors, and then resuspended into a platelet-rich solution, which is then applied to the skin after laser and microneedling procedures," Herrmann says. "It can also be injected into the skin with or without traditional soft-tissue fillers."
The beauty of this treatment is that you're using your own body to heal itself and maximize skin rejuvenation. "Platelets (a component of red blood cells) play a central role in this process by recruiting numerous growth factors, stem cells, and other restorative molecules to accelerate and maximize wound healing," she tells me. "When we heal wounds, our bodies naturally rebuild collagen, which improves skin texture, tightens the skin, and diminishes fine lines. When we used technologies to create micro wounds, we take advantage of our own healing process for rejuvenating purposes."
Apparently, orthopedists have been using injected PRP for years to restore joints and delay surgery. "When platelets are injected into failing or injured joints, they transform and repair them to a younger, healthier state," she adds. It's only recently that this science has been applied to the anti-aging industry.
While I was excited going into the treatment, I have to admit the nerves took hold as I watched the nurse extract blood from my right arm. I've donated blood a few times before, so the process wasn't painful or scary, but I did start to feel a little hesitant about how the blood would be used. While the science stacked up (PRP is a miracle serum), I couldn't help but feel strange about plastering my own blood all over my face, but there was no turning back now. While the Regeneo technology was spinning my blood and separating the rejuvenating platelets, a nurse came and applied some numbing cream all over my face to prep it for the first step—the Clear + Brilliant laser.
This incredibly popular laser (even Drew Barrymore is a fan) is aimed at "gently" rejuvenating the skin and improving pigmentation (yes, please). How? Herrmann says it's because it "delivers energy without injuring the surface of the skin." Unlike many lasers, it can also be used on almost all skin types (many lasers can't be used on darker skin types because they can burn or cause hyperpigmentation or dark spots).
Now that the blood had been spun, it was ready to go, but first, it was time for the Clear + Brilliant laser. My skin was incredibly numb at this point (like that feeling after you've had an injection at the dentist but all over your face), so Herrmann set to work. She applied the laser in sections—forehead, cheek, chin, nose, opposite cheek—then she proceeded to go over each one several times to ensure the whole area was treated. The first few times were fine, thanks to the numbing cream, but by the second and third I could really feel it, and it was uncomfortable and hot. But I was ready for some real results, so I envisioned that pesky melasma being burnt off, and it helped take my mind off it.
Thankfully, the whole process didn't take more than 15 to 20 minutes. It was quick, but it left my skin pink and feeling raw. Needless to say, I welcomed the blood serum next. It soothed my hot skin, and I immediately felt the rejuvenating benefits. The great thing about Clear + Brilliant is that it's 17 times more porous, which allows the platelet serum to be absorbed more efficiently, and it kick-starts the healing process. While there isn't a huge amount of downtime, Herrmann said I could expect my skin to be a little red and rough for the next few days.
I was also told to leave the blood on my face for at least six hours or so after the procedure. As you can see in the above photo, my face was incredibly red and covered in my own blood, so I did feel a little like Lilith from True Blood when exiting the clinic on Rodeo Drive. So I did what any woman in this situation would do, and I threw on my big black Céline shades and owned it.
The day after the treatment, my skin felt sandpapery and sensitive, but it was nothing I couldn't cover up with some makeup. For the next few days, moisturizer, hydrating serums, and sunscreen were applied on the regular. The dry, flaky feeling of my skin compelled me to apply thick hydrating masks whenever I could to restore the moisture. I also kept out of the sun as much as possible while my skin healed. I specifically booked my treatment early on a Saturday morning and cleared my schedule for the weekend just in case.
By the third day, all the redness had cleared, and just a fine sandpapery layer was left. It was fairly simple to cover up, and I kept some Colorscience sunscreen ($64) in my bag to reapply throughout the day. I also kept a few face mists on hand for instant hydration (my favorite being the CosMedix Mystic Hydrating Treatment, $21). My skin wasn't sensitive to the touch anymore either and seemed to be recovering nicely. If it already looked this good by day three, I couldn't wait to see the final results once the new skin revealed itself.
By day five, the old layer of skin had fallen away, and the new collagen had formed to reveal a fresh layer of smooth, dewy, and glowy goodness. Honestly, my skin was so incredibly clear without an iota of redness (I usually have a little on my chin and around my nose). Not only that, but the fine lines around my eyes seemed visibly reduced, and my pores appeared to be smaller.
While three treatments are recommended, I noticed significant results after just one, and the red and rough skin for the week prior was 100% worth it for the results. The verdict? It's so good that I'm making it an annual event. I'm all about prevention, and it's nice to know that we too can have access to the science and technology of Hollywood's "ageless" women. Buh-bye pigmentation, and hello clear, healthy skin.